Brits amongst us might well be familiar with the concept of ‘green’ or ‘ethical banking’ through publicity surrounding the Cooperative Bank and Triodos, or other UK high street banks that are falling over themselves to offer this new, trendy financial facility, which is also spreading rapidly through the American banking system; but what about Israel?
How is Israel, this vibrant economy, and environmental-technology pioneer of the Middle-East, adapting to this concept of ethical, environmental and social investing? Are we putting our hard earned shekels where our environmental mouths are? Green Prophet talked to Daniel Schwab, founder and CEO of Kayema, a boutique financial services company, and one of the very few championing ethical investing here, to find out.
“I believe we must take into consideration the ethical, social and environmental issues of ones investments; ethical investing should be about having an impact upon our society”, says Schwab, who was one of the founding members of the Jerusalem Centre for Business Ethics 10 years ago. He was inspired by Dr Meir Tamari, an ex-chief economist to the Bank of Israel, and author of many books on Jewish business ethics.
Schwab set out to translate the theory of financial ethics into a business model, and founded kayema (Hebrew for ‘sustainable’ or ‘sustainability’) in early 2004, as he says, ‘to pioneer’ in a not very sophisticated financial market, “from the ground up.”
While there have been successes, such as establishing the Sustainable Index for the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, and some much-needed reform of the Israeli Banking system, the notion of a company or an Individual wishing and able to put their money into companies involved in green, ethical, environmental issues (such as Triodos Bank supporting the Soil Association in the UK, thereby helping the organic movement grow and take root) here is slow. Schwab believes this kind of financial product lies somewhere hidden between the switched-on Anglo driving force and the slower Israeli market.
“It really is the public’s responsibility to drive this”, he says, talking of the possibilities that exist here, listing a half-dozen CleanTech companies that are worthwhile backing. WaterTech too, is a growth environmental market.